Research has found that a number of core beliefs identified by the psychologist Albert Ellis are consistently linked to self-dislike and depression.  I see these in many young  people today and they go largely unchallenged by adults because many of the adults in their lives are handicapped by the same irrational beliefs.  Below is a list of commonly held false core beliefs.  As an exercise, print this list and have your students circle those that they hold.  You might further discuss scriptural responses that challenge these false beliefs.



  1. I must be loved or approved of by everyone I consider significant.
  2. I must be thoroughly competent and adequate in everything I do.  I should not be satisfied with myself unless I’m the best or excelling.
  3. If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome I must be terribly concerned about it or keep on guard in case it happens.
  4. It is easier to avoid than face life’s difficulties and responsibilities.
  5. It’s bad to think well of oneself.
  6. I can’t be happy unless a certain condition – like success, money, love, approval, or perfect achievement – is met.
  7. I can’t feel worthwhile unless a certain condition if met.
  8. I’m entitled to happiness (or success, health, self-respect, pleasure, love) without having to work for it.
  9. One day when I make it, I’ll have friends and be able to enjoy myself.
  10. Work should be hard and in some way unpleasant.
  11. Joy is only gained through hard work.
  12. I am inadequate.
  13. Worrying insures that I’ll be prepared to face and solve problems.  So the more I worry the better.  (Constant worrying helps prevent future mistakes and problems and gives me extra control.)
  14. Life should be easy.  I can’t enjoy it if there are problems.
  15. The past makes me unhappy.  There’s no way around it.
  16. There’s a perfect solution, and I must find it.
  17. If people disapprove of (reject, criticize, mistreat) me, it means I’m inferior, wrong, or no good.
  18. I’m only as good as the work I do.  If I’m not productive, I’m no good.
  19. If I try hard enough, all people will like me.
  20. If I try hard enough, my future will be happy and trouble free.